LIMERICK PA – Mother Nature, like many residents of Limerick (PA) Township, must love a good car show.

Bright sun, blue skies and moderate temperatures greeted the first Limerick Fire Company fund-raising car show held Sunday afternoon (Oct. 10, 2010) in the parking lots surrounding the Texas Roadhouse Restaurant at 70 Buckwalter Rd., Royersford. Dozens of vehicle owners entered their cars and trucks to compete for the company’s trophies, awarded to top antique, top classic, top newer, Best of Show, and Peoples’ Choice selections.

A nominal entry fee made sure there was plenty of all makes and models to see, while free admission to the public and the couldn’t-ask-for-better weather ensured a good turn-out. The fire company also offered musical performances, food, and a variety of door prizes to show participants. The money collected benefited the company’s purchases of new apparatus.

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KING OF PRUSSIA PA – A 7-hour fair intended to introduce PECO energy customers – including most Limerick PA area residents – to new and existing electric generation suppliers will be held Wednesday (Sept. 22, 2010) from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Radisson Valley Forge Hotel, 1160 First Ave., King of Prussia PA.

The fair is free, open to the public, and is designed to familiarize consumers with their options in choosing electrical energy suppliers after Jan. 1 (2011) when utility deregulation takes effect in Pennsylvania. Visitors can meet supplier representatives, review their energy needs, and learn about competitive offers. Those attending may find it helpful to bring a copy of a recent utility bill for use during discussions with suppliers.

In addition, two presentations will be offered to explain the basics of electric choice. An explanation of “PECO Default Service Options” will be held at 8:30 a.m., followed at 9 a.m. by “Customer Experience Choosing A Competitive Supplier.”

Advance registration is not necessary but would be appreciated, PECO said. Registration can be for any one of three time frames: 7-9 a.m,9-11 a.m., or 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration can be entered online here.

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Walkers on the Perkiomen Trail cross Perkiomen Creek by way of a renovated and re-decked railroad bridge.

RAHNS PA – Travelers on Montgomery County’s Perkiomen Trail, a paved and maintained public trail that runs 19 miles from Oaks PA to Green Lane PA, can now use their cell phones to learn about “the trail’s rich history and the local environment,” Trails Manager Rich Wood said Thursday (Aug. 5, 2010).

Phone numbers to call once visitors reach specific locations on the trail are published in a new brochure the county is making available in a dozen kiosks from the trailhead at Rahns PA, on PA Route 113, north to Green Lane.

Travelers can simply stop along the trail in a designated, numbered area, call in on a cell phone, and hear a variety of facts and stories about life in the Perkiomen Valley, Wood said.

For more information about the program, call (you can use your cell phone for that, too) 610-476-5063.

Photo from Montgomery County

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COLLEGEVILLE PA – It’s part quilt-making, part animal and pet show, part music, part hay ride, and all fun. It’s the annual Montgomery County 4-H Fair, which runs Aug. 12-14 (2010; Thursday through Saturday) at the 4-H Center in Creamery PA, located on Route 113, one mile south of Route 73 near Skippack PA.

Cucumbers grown by Collegeville's Jenna Keim won a red ribbon during last years fair.

The fair showcases 4-H members exhibiting their livestock, poultry, companion animals, horses, and educational projects.  Many projects will be on display inside the 4-H Center Building, as well as outside on the fairgrounds.  There are many free activities for the public to participate in and enjoy.

The fair starts Aug. 12 from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. It features a 4-H mounted drill team presentation, swine show, dairy goat show, pony rides, horse-drawn hay rides, large animal costume class, and special 4-H member and leader recognition awards. In the activity tent, a DJ will provide music and games for youths of all ages. The Graterford Mounted Guard will make a presentation in the horse show rings, and other fun activities for youth also include a kiddie pedal tractor contest and a pedal train ride.

Friday is open to the public from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. It features poultry, rabbit, pygmy goat, beef and dairy 4-H shows. The Elmwood Park Zoo will feature several exotic animals during its demonstration at 11:30 a.m.  Preceding that, at 10:15 a.m., will be an award-winning magic show titled “The Magic of Nutrition” that has been featured at numerous schools across the state.

In the activity tent Friday are demonstrations about alpacas (1:30 p.m.) and a special program on “Pet Emergency Preparedness” by the county Animal Rescue Team (1 p.m.). The afternoon will feature music and games by the D.J., a 4-H Seeing Eye Puppy Club obstacle training course, and various children’s crafts. The “World’s Largest Sausage Patty” will be cooked, courtesy of Hatfield Quality Meats, and sold to benefit the 4-H Livestock Club.

As evening approaches, people can watch various horse demonstrations, see the sheep show, and bid on items in the silent auction. Starting at 6:30 p.m., clap along to the popular Daisy Jug Band, which has performed at Musikfest in Bethlehem and at numerous major events along the East Coast.

Key events Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. include the Can-Do Canine drill team, 4-H dog club grooming and showmanship, seeing eye puppy demo, model rocket launch, and open pet show. Equine events include a Parade of Breeds starting at 11 a.m. and a natural horsemanship presentation starting about 1 p.m. “Moms Morning Out” will be at 10:30 a.m. inside the air-conditioned building, and will offer a presentation and information on making healthy meals.

Fair attendees can get their picture taken on a pony (at selected times), visit and learn about agriculture at the Mobile Agriculture Lab, buy fabric at the fabric sale, take a ride on a pedal-powered train, see various tractors on display, and watch quilts being made. Pony rides are available at various times all three days of the fair.

In addition to all activities listed, there are children’s craft areas and food sales throughout the fair. Again this year is a silent auction on both Thursday and Friday night. Bids open at 7 p.m. in the back of the activity tent.

Parking fee is $5 per vehicle (any additional donations are gladly accepted) to help cover fair costs. Numerous vendors will also be on hand to offer education and/or products.

For more details about fair events, call the 4-H office at 610-489-4315, visit its website.

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ROYERSFORD PA – Limerick (PA) Township may soon be the latest local example of how solar power can shine as an alternative energy source, as the Kohl’s Department Store, 989 S. Township Line Rd., Royersford PA, prepares to outfit its roof with an array of solar panels to generate electricity for its own use.

The Lakeview Shopping Center, South Township Line Road, Royersford is shown in a Google satellite image, with an inset photo of the Kohl's there.

Township Manager Daniel Kerr told members of the Board of Supervisors, during their meeting Tuesday (July 20, 2010) in the municipal building, 646 W. Ridge Pike, that representatives of Kohl’s last week had applied for a building permit to install equipment that will gather and convert the sun’s energy into usable power intended to reduce the retailer’s energy costs.

Moving away from traditional energy sources, and increasing reliance on alternatives, as been a Kohl’s corporate mission for several years. Just five days earlier, on July 15, the Wisconsin-based company announced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy had awarded a 500th Kohl’s location with an Energy Star designation. The label is granted under specific standards to acknowledge a commitment to energy management and efficiency.

In its press release, Kohl’s estimated it has already saved almost $50 million in energy efficiencies wrung from its stores during the past four years.

If the Limerick permit is granted and the work at the Royersford store completed, it would join other Kohl’s locations in California, Colorado, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, California and Oregon using solar-generated energy from its rooftop and other sources. Kohl’s claims it is the largest retail host of solar power, and that its distributed solar program is the largest in the world among retailers.

A Kohl’s executive vice president, in a Business Week magazine interview regarding the company’s earlier solar installations, said an array like that planned for the Royersford rooftop in the Lakeview Shopping Center may not earn an immediate return on its investment. As the cost of oil rises and utility prices increase, however, the retailer should continue to enjoy significant savings over 20 years, he noted.

Although Kerr did not disclose the specifics of the Royersford Kohl’s building permit application, similar installations on a typical Kohl’s store of 88,000 square feet reportedly have involved more than 2,300 solar panels. A 2008 Kohl’s estimate said its average solar panel installation provided “30 percent of a store’s annual energy, or enough to power 54 homes annually.”

Kohl’s also last week announced that beginning in Spring 2011 all its newly constructed stores will be designed to qualify for Energy Star designation.

Related (to the Limerick Township Board of Supervisors’ July 20 meeting):

Satellite map image from Panoramio; Kohl’s store inset from LoopNet

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Drivers traveling U.S. Route 422 west in Limerick (PA) Township approach the highway's Sanatoga interchange.

LIMERICK PA – The U.S. Route 422 Master Plan, a document that provides “a vision and a framework” to manage population growth and traffic congestion along the four-lane highway – and not one, backers pointed out, that directly calls for imposing driver tolls – won unanimous support Tuesday (July 20, 2010) from the Limerick (PA) Township Board of Supervisors.

Before its vote to endorse the master plan’s principles and strategies, however, two board members, Chairman Kenneth Sperring Jr. and Supervisor Joseph St. Pedro, publicly volunteered that they would oppose tolls on 422 if recommended under a revenue study now being conducted. That review, begun earlier this year, is exploring how to pay for some master plan proposals.

Their statements were in response to questions posed by The Post over whether the township’s acceptance of the master plan could be interpreted as an endorsement of tolling. “The two are separate issues,” township Manager Daniel Kerr said, and he expressed confidence that, should tolling of 422 be suggested later, Limerick supervisors would vote on it separately.

Similar questions, posed July 6 by The Post to the Board of Commissioners in neighboring Lower Pottsgrove Township, caused that governing body to withhold a vote on a resolution identical to the one passed in Limerick. At the time, commissioners acknowledged they were uncertain of the resolution’s implications.

Cover of the 422 Master Plan Summary Report

Cover of the 422 Master Plan Summary Report.

Limerick board Vice Chair Kara Shuler had no such hesitation. She cited the resolution’s vision-and-framework paragraph to emphasize her understanding that the endorsement was merely a statement of support for land use and transportation planning.

Her comments echoed those of Leo Bagley, assistant director of the Montgomery County Planning Department, who in an e-mail sent last Friday (July 16) to The Post wrote that “The resolution for the Master Plan (has) nothing to do with any tolling. Since the tolling study has been under way for only a couple of months now, nobody has any info on its feasibility.”

To suggest the two were linked, Bagley added, constituted hearsay and misinformation.

Limerick’s endorsement is the second offered by a municipality this month; the East Vincent Township Board of Supervisors similarly provided its master plan approval in a July 7 vote. Although an agenda for its meeting tomorrow (Thursday, July 22) is not yet available, Lower Pottsgrove indicated its board could re-visit the endorsement then. If so, its approval seems likely, based on commissioners’ earlier discussions.

Endorsement decisions also are being awaited from North and East Coventry, East Pikeland, Schuylkill, Lower Providence, Upper Merion, and Upper Providence townships; and Spring City, Phoenixville, Pottstown, and Royersford boroughs, according to Jerry Coyne, manager of the Office of Transportation Studies in the Philadelphia-based Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC).

Related (to U.S. Route 422 Corridor planning):

Related (to the Limerick Township Board of Supervisors’ July 20 meeting):

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SPRING CITY PA – Guns collected by the Spring City Police Department as evidence of crimes committed during the past three decades will be put to new – and peaceably decorative – use next Tuesday (July 13, 2010), as they get melted down to create ornamental lighting to be erected on Main Street in the borough.

One of Spring City Electrical's ornamental street lights is shown against the Philadelphia skyline at night in this photo from the company's website.

The guns will be stripped down by the police and, in partnership with the borough, handed over to the foundry at Spring City Electrical, a nationally known firm that casts and manufactures street lights for architectural and landscaping uses in the U.S. and internationally, according to company spokeswoman Tracie Wolf.

Borough Mayor Michael Weiss, Police Chief Deidre Sherman, and company employees are expected to be on hand for the melt-down and subsequent metal-pouring in the firm’s factory at Hall and Main streets, Spring City PA. A ceremony to unveil the finished products should be scheduled sometime in early August, Wolf added.

Spring City Electrical has been in operation for 166 years, according to its website, and does the bulk of its business in cast ornamental lighting systems like those being created for Main Street. Many of its products include light-emitting diodes (LED) that produce bright, white light and consume less electricity than traditional lighting. Its LED product line was introduced last March (2009).

Photo from Spring City Electrical

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